Earlier this week, Merriam-Webster, a leading authority on language, declared “feminism” as 2017’s word of the year.
Feminism was selected because it was among the most looked up words throughout the year, with several spikes that corresponded to news and events, Merriam-Webster said.
Key among them were January’s Women’s March in Washington, D.C., the film “Wonder Woman” and the numerous allegations of sexual assault and harassment.
According to Merriam-Webster, feminism by definition is “the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes” and “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”
While I have never really considered myself a feminist or participated in rallies or events to promote gender equality, when it comes down to the actual definition, I have to admit that most of my life has supported feminism.
I have never been one to look to a man for permission to do something. Instead, I gravitated toward leadership roles since I was in junior high school. Positions such as student council member, class officer, club president and more were all part of my years in school.
Then, when it came time to pick a career, I chose a profession that was dominated by men at the time. Though female journalists are commonplace today, that wasn’t always the case.
My decision was not because I was trying to make a statement. It was just what I wanted to do, what felt right.
As I continued with volunteer activities as an adult, once again I landed in leadership positions. Committee chair, vice president and president are titles I have held in several organizations, and I have been recognized for my efforts.
Was I a feminist? Perhaps. I never really thought about it. I just saw a job that needed to be done, and I did it. As in all things, I prefer to look at a person’s ability to accomplish tasks, rather than gender or race or religion.
It’s the way I continue to look at things, even in my career. When thinking about what I do or describing my job to new acquaintances, my gender never enters into the equation. Instead, I see a journalist with years of experience that have brought me to the role I hold today.
Only recently did I start meeting with a group of strong women whose sole purpose is to empower and support other women. By creating a bond of friendship among the very informal membership, we support one another’s activities and businesses.
Our intention isn’t to flaunt our feminism. We’re simply a bunch of girls laughing, sharing good times and bad along with a meal and glass of wine.
Do feminists deserve to be singled out this year, or any other year? I don’t have that answer.
Perhaps next year will bring an end to the need to define one’s work or activities by their gender. Until then, feminism will reign — at least as the word of the year.